'Lovers of Modena' skeletons holding hands were both men

Italy’s famed Lovers of Modena were both men tooth enamel analysis reveals

Italy’s famed Lovers of Modena were both men tooth enamel analysis reveals

While it can not be discounted that the two men were indeed lovers, the social attitudes of society at the time-dominated by Christian religious restrictions-means it was unlikely that those who buried them would have chosen to highlight this relationship if they were aware of it, the researchers said. They were dubbed the "Lovers of Modena" by the worldwide media.

"There are now no other examples of this type", Federico Lugli, a researcher at the University of Bologna and the lead author of the Nature study, told Rai News.

Researchers at the University of Bologna were able to use a new technique in which they extracted proteins from the dental enamel of both individuals to determine that the skeletons, always assumed to have been a female-male couple, were in fact two males.

The details of the study were published Wednesday in Scientific Reports, an academic journal published by the Nature Group. The technique looks at various chemicals in a sample to determine the genes of amelogenin proteins; both males and females have amelogenin-X genes, but only males have amelogenin-Y.

A pair of skeletons dubbed the "Lovers of Modena" because they were discovered holding hands are both male, say scientists.

"Although we can not exclude that these two individuals were actually in love, it is unlikely that people who buried them made a decision to show such bond by positioning their bodies hand in hand", they conclude.

"In literature, there are no other cases of burials with two men laid hand in hand: it was certainly not a common practice in the late-ancient era".

We don't know the circumstances of their relationship or their burial together. But in every case, current research suggests that the couples are male and female. Christian society at the time would likely have "frowned upon" homosexual love. "At present, no other burials of this type are known", Federico Lugli, the lead author of the study, told the newspaper La Repubblica.

The researchers believe the Lovers of Modena were buried together because they were friends or war comrades and died in battle together.

"The success of the analysis method we used represents a real revolution for this type of study", Antonino Vazzana, another author of the study from the University of Bologna, said in the statement.

Remains of the so-called "Lovers of Modena".

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